3/26/18 Hero: Nicole Rios

Today’s #SameHere🤙 Hero: Nicole Rios (Yet another angle to mental health we haven’t yet discussed: dealing w/ the depression & anxiety that comes when you know something is wrong physically, but doctors can’t “find” anything wrong. Then…dealing w/ the added anxiety about the “what ifs” when you are finally diagnosed provides a whole other layer of MH complications. Bc of Nicole’s openness & strength, we are excited she has joined us as a #SameHere🤙 Advocate!)


“Depression & anxiety have been present in my family in previous generations, so right off the bat I knew I was genetically predisposed. When I went away to college my grandpa, who I was incredibly close with passed away, & that affected me greatly. Shortly after, my physical health symptoms started to manifest.


I went a year explaining the symptoms I was experiencing to many doctors, yet I dealt w/ being undiagnosed – which certainly took a toll. During that time,  being told by these docs that nothing was wrong, when I knew I wasn’t imagining my symptoms, added to my underlying depression. Once I finally was diagnosed with chronic illnesses (lupus, fibromyalgia & postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), more anxiety & depression followed as a result of the unknown of what my future would hold, & what my capabilities would be as things progressed.


I had been angry & very upset that the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong w/ me. It’s not like I was HOPING for a diagnosis, but I KNEW something was wrong. So, being undiagnosed & not having an answer, doctors initially suggested I try antidepressants. I am very sensitive to medication, & I tried one after another w/ no success.  I got to the point where I was so numb, I felt nothing. I started to have stomach issues due to all of the changing of medications, so I was taken off of everything, which at that time was the best thing that could’ve been decided for me.


I started therapy & antidepressants again at two different times after I had initially stopped. When I was first diagnosed w/ lupus, I was having a tough time dealing.


One of my doctors suggested a low dose to give myself a ‘break.’ She explained it as giving myself a chance to breathe &  taking a weight off of my shoulders. She also explained that if a person has diabetes, they take insulin…so there should be no difference when it comes to mental health. From then on I’ve never felt ashamed to talk about it. I tried a medication, & didn’t feel like it helped because it wasn’t the correct one for me. More recently, I felt the effects of lupus in the form of anxiety & depression.


I met with a new therapist & gave it a try one more time wi/ an anti anxiety medication…& this time, it worked.


I spoke to my family about being on board w/ me & letting me know if I changed at all bc I did not want to lose myself or my feelings. Luckily, none of that happened, except in good news, the weight was finally lifted from my shoulders. To this day, I have no problem telling people I am on a low dose of an anti anxiety/depressant & it is helping me live my life the best I can while also living w/ lupus & my other physical conditions.


I occasionally talk with a therapist, but the biggest practice that has helped me is meditation. I use the app ‘Headspace’ & I’ve been practicing for about two years now almost every day. I’ve learned to recognize when my body is tense & how to calm & relax my body when I am stressed or anxious. I’m still learning every day, but I absolutely love it & recommend it to everyone.


I decided to start speaking openly about what I was going through when I was taking that initial steep decline in my physical health. It started as a coping mechanism for me (& still is), but also grew into an amazing way to connect w/ others going through the same things. I think keeping your symptoms & feelings a secret just makes it pile up inside you & that it will inevitably come out, & usually in an unpleasant way. #SameHere🤙, the more you talk about how you feel, communicate w/ others, & don’t let those who don’t understand or support you bother you, I promise you, you will feel better than suppressing your feelings or hoping you get over them or they will go away. Also, as an advocate now on Instagram for many (and a member of the #SameHere🤙 Advocacy Alliance), I am always a message away 🙂 . We have to support each other rather than turn our back on those going through difficult times.”

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